Our Trustees

Carol Costello

Carol is a successful senior professional with extensive experience in leading a range of corporate and customer-facing services. Her strengths lie in service improvement, organisational development, and effective management of human and financial resources, along with excellent communication and relationship-building skills developed over many years of working with customers, employees, trade unions, MPs, board members, and partners. She is well-versed in developing strategies to support business needs, as well as the development and implementation of cultural change.

In addition to her career responsibilities, Carol has taken on additional long-term strategic roles, in which she has engaged with other stakeholders and the local community. This has included work in area assemblies with residents, community groups and elected members, raising issues that were important to neighbourhoods, including the co-location of GP, library and customer services in a new hub. Carol also acted as the Lancashire County’s Management Board Link for Chorley District Council, working with them on joint service delivery. Whilst at the University of Central Lancashire, Carol served as a representative on their Employability Board and now serves as the Russell Group University Representative on pensions and clinical employments (joint work with the NHS).

Member appointed Trustee
Appointed: 8 February 2016

Faruk Dasu  (Chair of Faith and Character Education Board)

Faruk has worked in Further Education and in the private sector. He has been involved in the pharmaceutical industry for several years, working for multinational companies including Daichi Sankyo, Sanofi Aventis and Novonordisk in various sales, marketing and training positions. He is currently employed as a key account manager for a Spanish-based pharmaceutical company called Almirall. Earlier in his career, he operated as a degree-level Curriculum Manager and Departmental Head in the Further Education sector.

Faruk has chaired a number of school Governing Bodies and is currently the Chair of Governors at The Olive School, Blackburn.

Member appointed Trustee
Appointed: 13 May 2013

Harry Devonport (Chair of Academic Board)

Following a successful teaching career, which included working as a Headteacher at a South East Manchester High School, Harry went on to lead Blackburn with Darwen’s nationally recognised Education Action Zone. Harry has held several Chief Officer positions within the local authority, most recently as Director of Education, where he led focused work on school improvement and the raising of standards, with targeted work with vulnerable and underachieving groups. Harry also managed the development of the Children & Young People’s Plan (CYPP) and the CYPP Partnership. He oversaw the development of performance management, quality assurance and systems to support inspection and accountability, as well as the Education Department’s resourcing strategy, workforce development and its capital programme.

Harry retired in February 2012 and continues to remain active in supporting education within the local area.

Member appointed Trustee
Appointed:  1 June 2014

Mohamed Isap (Chair of Policy and Resources Committee)

Mo is Group Strategy Director at Hobs PLC. With over 30 operations across the UK, Hobs are the country’s largest provider of 3D technology. As part of the Group Board, Mo leads the development of business strategy and innovation across a global market including new ventures, acquisitions and market development. Mo established MPG in 1997, and it rapidly grew into the North West’s largest independent digital print company, listed in the Financial Times 100 Fast Track Companies. The business was sold in 2013. Mo has also founded Business Plus and Create Plus as Social Enterprises, harnessing the talents of the business community to serve charitable causes.

Mo is a trained Accountant, has an MBA, and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management.

Mo is also Chair of Blackburn with Darwen’s Local Strategic Partnership, the town’s largest and most influential partnership body, which is made up of representatives from the public sector, local business and the faith, community and voluntary sector. Mo has previously been a non-executive Director of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and, for six years, served on the Department for Trade and Industry’s Ethnic Minority Business Forum. He was instrumental in bringing a significant amount of national funding into the region to support business and entrepreneurship. He has been on the Corporation Board at Blackburn College for 6 years and was the Chair of Governors at Wensley Fold Church of England School for 8 years. He is currently the Chair of Governors for Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School.

Member appointed Trustee
Appointed:  23 August 2010, re-appointed in September 2012

Kevin Jaquiss (Chair of Audit Committee)

Kevin has recently become a consultant at DWF LLP, having previously been a partner within the firm. Specialising in education, Kevin’s role entails developing new structures for the delivery of community services and employment. Kevin previously led the Cross-Disciplinary Team, which was at the forefront of developing new structures in response to the Coalition Government’s commitment to employees and communities. He worked on new enterprises in education, health, sport, housing, care, utilities and leisure sectors, receiving the Financial Times’ Innovative Lawyer of the Year 2010 award for his work.

Kevin’s background is within employment law and he specialised in high profile or sensitive employment disputes and providing advice on human resource strategy, including collective bargaining issues. He is a qualified mediator and a regular speaker at conferences and seminars on human resources and equal opportunity issues. He is currently working in partnership with the Co-operative Group and the Co-operative College and developed a constitution for the creation of new co-operative school trusts, which has the personal support of the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. He has established more than 200 co-operative schools using the model developed.

Kevin is recognised in the Chambers’ Journal for being an ‘exceptionally bright’ practitioner, and for his ‘robust’ representation of clients operating in the education sector in particular.

Member appointed Trustee
Appointed: 1 June 2014

Kamruddin Kothia (Chair of Board of Trustees, Chair of Nomination & Remuneration Committee)

With a strong background in telecommunications, Kam established eBusiness UK Ltd in 1998 to supply e-commerce, e-marketing and website design solutions to SMEs in the North West. eBusiness UK is now renowned as one of Lancashire’s premier digital agencies. It specialises in helping businesses generate great investment returns from their online channels. With over a dozen years of frontline digital experience, eBusiness UK has delivered over 300 online solutions and won numerous awards along the way.

Kam is currently Chair of the Board of Trustees at Star Academies and Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire. His previous commitments have included being a Director of Business Link, Vice Chairman and Director of the Asian Business Federation and a Director of the East Lancashire Partnership. Kam was also a founding member and Chair of the North West Development Agency’s North West Ethnic Minority Business Forum, and played an integral role in establishing the Department for Trade and Industry’s Ministerial Ethnic Minority Business Forum.

Member appointed Trustee
Appointed: 23 August 2010, re-appointed in September 2012

Mufti Hamid Patel CBE (Chief Executive)

Hamid is the Chief Executive of Star Academies. He has led the Trust since its inception. Hamid is passionate about the highest of ambition for children and young people from the most disadvantaged communities across the country and this vision has guided the philosophy of the Trust and his work in particular.    Hamid, as a National Leader of Education, is a member of several national and international strategic educational and policy forums. In this role, he has contributed to the development of strategies and programmes as diverse as teacher training, leadership development, community cohesion, curriculum reform and social mobility. Hamid is committed to the development of a strong and world-class academy sector and actively works to improve its reputation.

Within his previous role, as Executive Principal of the Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School (TIGHS), the school secured three ‘outstanding’ inspections by Ofsted and became the top school in the country for progress by all students, those with low prior achievement at primary school and from disadvantaged backgrounds. The school is now an Academy within the Trust.

Prior to his role at Star, Hamid was the Director of Strategy, Change and External Relations at Bradford College – leading on one of the most ambitious change programmes in Further Education.

In recognition of his service to education, Hamid was awarded a CBE in 2015. Hamid is currently Chair of Governors at Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School.

Chief Executive Trustee
Appointed:  13 May 2013

Imraan Patel

Imraan is the Group General Counsel and Company Secretary of EG Group, and is based at the company’s headquarters in Blackburn, where he is a member of the executive leadership team. EG Group is a leading convenience retailer, with operations spread across approximately 5,900 sites across three continents generating more than €20 billion in annualised revenues. In his role, Imraan plays a central role in Mergers & Acquisitions activity and is also responsible for legal, compliance and sustainability related matters across the Group.

As well as being a Trustee at Star Academies, he is the Chair of Governors at The Olive School, Preston, and Chair of Governors for Eden Boys’ School, Preston.

Imraan holds a degree in law (LL.B Hons) from the University of Lancaster and a postgraduate diploma in legal practice (PGDipL) from the College of Law (renamed University of Law) in Chester. Mr. Patel completed his legal training at BT Group plc from 2001 to 2003, during which time he was seconded to a law firm in the City of London, Ashurst LLP (previously Ashurst Morris Crisp). Mr. Patel qualified as Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales in 2003 and has over 15 years of experience of negotiating, and delivering legal and commercial advice on, complex, frequently high profile transactions around the world. Imraan has received many accolades, most recently being named in the “Hot 100 2019” list by The Lawyer publication which celebrates the best and most innovative and creative lawyers in the UK.

Academy Trustee
Appointed:  18 December 2014

Rt Hon. Jack Straw

The Rt Hon. Jack Straw has enjoyed an esteemed political career and has close ties with Blackburn, where Star was initially founded, having served as the town’s MP for over 35 years.

Jack qualified as a barrister in the early 1970s, practicing criminal law for 2 years before he made the transition to politics. He initially served as a member of the Shadow Cabinet, where he was appointed to a number of high-profile roles, including the Opposition Spokesman on Education, Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, and Shadow Home Secretary.

When the Labour Party came in to power in 1997 under the leadership of Tony Blair, Jack was already well-versed in the roles and responsibilities of being Home Secretary, and was the natural choice to take up the mantle. During his four years in office, he oversaw the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act and the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into British law.

In 2001, Jack was appointed to the role of Foreign Secretary, a role he held until 2006. He played a leading role in shaping foreign policy and facilitating international relations.

Jack continued to play a pivotal role in the Labour Party, becoming Leader of the House of Commons from 2006-2007, and then Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice from 2007 to 2010. He was the first Lord Chancellor since the 16th century to serve in the role whilst a member of the House of Commons.

Jack retired from front-bench politics in 2010, but remains a staunch believer in the transformative power of education and an influential advocate for young people. He is a Visiting Professor at the University College London School of Public Policy, the Governor of Blackburn College and, from May 2015, has been Chairman of the Blackburn Youth Zone.

Member appointed Trustee
Appointed: 17 July 2017

Fiona Jordan

Fiona has extensive experience of education policy and reform programmes, having worked for the Department for Education for over 25 years. During her career, Fiona’s policy roles included establishing a new agency to improve quality in FE; post-16 success measures and sector skills strategies. From 2006, Fiona took a leading role in 14-19 reform as the Programme Director with responsibility for the 14-19 Qualifications Strategy; diploma design and development and foundation learning, working with a range of partner organisations and stakeholder groups. From 2010, Fiona led on strategy and delivery of the Schools’ Reform Programme, initially building school-to-school improvement partnerships and then brokering academy and free school solutions to meet ministerial targets.

After leaving the Department for Education in 2012, Fiona worked for 2 years with a large national multi academy trust, leading on design of their Quality Improvement Strategy and working with their Northern group of schools on post-inspection action planning, governance and building collaborative networks with universities and employers.

More recently, Fiona has undertaken a range of consultancy projects, both nationally and locally, predominantly in the education sector, but also with voluntary and charitable organisations.

Member appointed Trustee
Appointed: 9 August 2018


Trustees are appointed for an initial term of 4 years, but may be re-appointed thereafter. This time limit does not apply to the Chief Executive, who holds the position whilst in post.

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